Which is the best A level Physics textbook? I am often asked this question by students and so I have provided my recommendations below. These are all books that I personally own and use.
Many students find a general A-level Physics textbook to be helpful, in addition to the course textbook they are supplied with. They may want a simpler, clearer explanation of topics and a more accessible book for looking things up (some of the course textbooks are quite wordy and don’t get to the point quickly), or they may feel they need more worked examples and practice questions, to build understanding and confidence.
The following textbooks are recommended by me as good companions to any A-level Physics course, regardless of examination board and in addition to the course textbooks.
Advanced Physics for You (Johnson, Hewitt, Holt, Miller) – recommended
Advanced Physics for You is designed to help and support you during your Advanced Physics course. No matter which exam board you are following, this book will help you with your understanding of A-level Physics. The book is carefully laid out, so that each new idea is introduced and developed on a single page or on two facing pages. Words have been kept to a minimum and as straightforward as possible. More difficult ideas are covered on pages with a red triangle in the top corner. Each important fact or new formula is clearly printed in heavy type or in a coloured box. There is a summary of the important facts at the end of each chapter, to help you with revision. Worked examples are used throughout the book, in fact there are more than 200, which help you to see how to tackle different kinds of problems in physics. At the end of each chapter there are a number of questions for you to practice your physics and so gain in confidence. These range from a simple gap fill to more difficult questions that will need more thought. At the end of each main topic you will find a section of further questions, mostly taken from A-level exam papers. The exam board is given for each exam question, which helps you to focus on questions specific to your course. For all of these questions, a ‘Hints and Answers’ section at the back of the book gives you hxelpful hints if you need them, as well as the answers. Reading the book should make Physics more interesting for you and easier to understand. Clearly this has been the author’s aim. In my opinion, this is the best A level physics textbook. Read all of the reviews of this book on Amazon here
Advanced Physics (Adams & Allday) – recommended
Advanced Physics (Adams & Allday) is a very well written textbook, with comprehensive coverage of all the core content you need to know. For all mainstream AS and A Level specifications, this textbook helps support the exam board recommended textbooks with useful extra info. This textbook is certainly not a ‘quick’ guide to physics, but it truly shines if you want to learn and fully understand physics at A-level. Used by both keen students and by teachers to extend subject knowledge. There are many excellent reviews:
“Advanced Physics is a wonderful book which makes physics inspiring and mind-blowing. It is beautifully laid out and has an excellent balance of text to worked examples, illustrations, practice questions and key points.” (TES (Review for the 1st Edition))
Check all of the reviews of this textbook on Amazon here
Muncaster a classic and will be known to all physics teachers over a certain age! The book doesn’t use colour or photos. However, the very clear and thorough explanations coupled with the extensive questions sets (with answers at the back) make this book ideal for deep dives into a topic and for sustained questions practice. There is no substitute for the hard work of trying lots of questions on a topic, which will over time build a deep understanding, essential for those aiming for higher grades. There are a large number of worked examples, which are designed to help the transition from GCSE and build confidence. There are questions at relevant points in the text, so that you can get an immediate test of your understanding of a topic at that point. At the end of each of the 7 sections, there are sets of questions, most of which are from past A level exam papers. There are over 200 of these in the fourth edition of the book. Check reviews of this textbook on Amazon here
Available for AQA, Edexcel and OCR, this book tells you what you need to know with a concise summary of each practical covering essential theory, planning, safety, some typical results and how to analyse the results. There are helpful knowledge checks and exam tips alongside each practical.
This book also covers in detail the general practical skills you need to develop, such as knowledge of techniques and methodology, as well as specific skills such as how to take a measurement using a micrometer or how to combine uncertainties.
Each core practical has a useful worked example, covering the different kinds of questions you could be asked. There is a further section on exam style questions at the end of the book, with multiple choice and structured questions. All questions have the answers provided.
Overall, could be helpful for a reference as you go along and for revision towards the exams. Check reviews on Amazon here